With his easy-going charm, cheeky humour and baking brilliance, Dan Beasley-Harling was one of the most memorable contestants in 2018’s The Great British Bake Off. A firm favourite with judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, he received a record-breaking three ‘Hollywood handshakes’ – for his Boozy Black Forest Gateaux Tray Bake in Cake Week, his Sticky Spiced Orange Chelsea Buns (which Paul said were ‘annoyingly perfect’) in Bread Week, and his deliciously fruity Florida Roulade in Desserts Week. If that wasn’t enough, Dan’s recreation of his stunning Ginger and Lemon Drip Cake for An Extra Slice saw Paul hold his hand out for an incredible fourth time!
Dan’s prowess in Desserts Week also led him to being named Star Baker, but in Week Six his usually excellent pastry skills deserted him and he had to leave the competition. Prue was sad to see him go and Paul said he was ‘one of the most natural bakers we’ve seen in the tent; he left far too early’.
A London-based, stay-at-home father of two young children, Dan was also a big hit with viewers. Described as ‘sassy’ by comedian Tom Allen, he has a great sense of fun, coupled with an irreverent streak that saw him tell Paul that Spice Week’s showstopper challenge, a spiced biscuit chandelier, was ‘a ridiculous idea’!
Entirely self-taught, Dan is a perfectionist with a deep understanding of techniques and flavour combinations, and a desire to make every one of his recipes a thing of beauty. For him, ‘the pleasure of eating begins with what we see’. As a full-time father who cooks for his family, he also understands the challenges of creating tasty, nutritious, affordable dishes throughout the week. The concept of ‘household management’, which embraces everything from smart shopping to creative meal planning, will form the subject of his first book, a proposal for which is in development.